Rabbi Fern receiving smicha from ALEPH, Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
I have studied kabbalah seriously for about over 20 years. The complexity and the dynamics of it intrigue me, and inspire me to find imagery that speaks to those of us who do not fit the binary gender and sexuality paradigms that much of kabbalah perpetuates. I have a strong motivation to bring out the queernesses in it, and the non-dualities, both for the sake of those of us who feel in whatever way not gender-normative, queer, or complicated, but also for the sake of the kabbalah itself, which will survive and flourish much better if it is explored more fully and creatively.
…No matter how much we develop scientifically plausible theories, we come back to the basic question of human consciousness, which boils down to “can we trust our experience?” If not, then we have no reason to believe there is anything beyond the individual self. We have no reason, even, to believe that logic correlates with reality. If, however, we choose to trust our experience, everything else follows. In Jewish tradition, we are not asked to believe anything we haven’t experienced. We said “na’aseh v’nishmah—we will do and we will hear” when we received the Torah, partly because of this recognition that Judaism is about experience, and embodiment, not just theory. As a friend of mine says, “I don’t believe in G-d, I experience G-d”. As with any spiritual practice, Judaism, and prayer, look ridiculous from the outside. It is only on the inside that they make sense. So with davenning (prayer), there is no point in deciding if we “believe’ in it or not until we do it.